|Chino (the "Optics Dude")|
Aircraft carriers have always fascinated me. I can remember building a model of the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) when I was around 10 years old (let's not think about how long ago THAT was). It was maybe three feet long and the jets I painted and glued to the deck were maybe an inch or so. A carrier is something that is both huge and tiny at the same time -- you can compare it to a building if you see it in port, or to a postage stamp if you're thinking about landing on it. I was thrilled when I finally got aboard a real carrier -- I was lucky enough to tour the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) in San Diego a few years ago. It was in port, so there were no planes aboard, but the view from the flight deck was still worth the price of admission (OK, so it was free). I jogged from the pointy end to the back end of that boat a couple of times, just to feel how big it was. And it was astoundingly big.
Pointy end? Jane's F/A-18 has now made me a virtual naval aviator, so I get to call a thousand-foot super carrier a boat and talk about the pointy end and the back end. I actually specialized in ramp strikes for quite a while, so I got to know the back end a little too well -- though now I can sometimes even trap without a word from the LSO. It's a strange and fascinating world, carrier aviation, and if you'd like to learn more, I've got a few books and videos to recommend.
I hope these books and videos add to your knowledge and enjoyment of naval aviation sims such as Jane's F/A-18. If you set up your autopilot right, you can probably even do a little reading while you're holding in the marshal stack.